Post Office Bankruptcy Blues

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News, Hispanic Bilingual Newspaper It looks set to make deep cuts in order to try to prevent going into bankruptcy. The U.S. postal system will not only be raising the price of a first class cent stamp but will no longer be guaranteeing next day delivery for first class mail. Not that they have from my experience really been guaranteeing that to begin with. The U.S. postal service is still putting tens of thousands of post offices on the chopping block—either privatizing them or closing them down completely (frankly, privatizing them would be preferable to closing them down!). None of this bodes well for a system that has been in my view plagued by inefficiency, incompetent deadwood bureaucracy, and executives with high salaries who have not tried to look after the welfare of the postal system they run nor the employees who operate under them.

I certainly do not blame the ordinary postal workers and mail carriers who are doing the best job possible given the non-sense they have to put up with and long hours they have to put in. But those who have run the post office for years just have not kept up with the times nor done much to try and attract more people to use it as an alternative to e-mails or private carriers like UPS, Fedex and DHL. Because when you look at it, the U.S. postal system has always had the advantage of being the largest and most widespread delivery system in the United States. It reaches into just about every single community and region of this big and vast country of ours, and most important it can deliver mail and merchandise to one’s doorstep for a lot less than many private carriers. Even e-mails and the Internet have their limitations. Just as equally sad is that despite attempts to do so, the U.S. postal system does not work efficiently enough with private carriers for rural and out-of-the-way communities that depend on some delivery system to keep them in touch with the rest of the country.

If the cutbacks that are being proposed come about, how will this affect newspapers and magazines? Even with the Internet, there are still rural and isolated communities that need the daily and weekly delivery of newspapers and magazines as this serves since many such communities have no computer link-ups. This is true of many elderly Americans. Heck, newspapers and magazines remain the mainstay of many cities and large towns for subscribers, public libraries, and newstands. Imagine how cutbacks in the postal service and the fee hikes will affect the newspapers and magazines through the country. Periodicals will have to pay higher fees for delivery, and this can dangerously affect many newspapers and magazines who are struggling in this down economy as it is (this could affect Lawndale News too since we would have to pay higher fees and cutbacks in the postal system would mean delays for our newspapers to our customers).

Also think about how cutbacks will affect many Americans who still rely on receiving their paychecks in the mail and seniors who rely on receiving their prescription medicines. How will these people cope if there are delays in receiving the money and medicines they so desperately need? We must also remember that post offices serve as a gathering point for many people in small rural and isolated communities. If these are closed down then how will this impact the people in these places? Besides putting more people into the unemployment line, it will mean people will be forced to go to the next nearest post office which can be many miles away (and in winter this can be hazardous for them). The sad fact is that the U.S. postal system is too big and too widespread to be shut down. Will those in charge be able to fix it? Could the whole or good parts of the system be privatized to save it? We will find out soon enough.

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